Friday night as I left work it just seemed perfect. It was September and we had just had two days of heavy weather. Lots of rain, wind, etc. and I thought we were in for a big cool off.
It was three days after dark moon and the best most fishable conditions of the three days. A lot of clouds, moderate wind, no real threat of rain and it was Friday night! I planned on fishing late. I hit Big C. at about 6:45pm and headed to my favorite bar! This large structure has several key points or fingers and very good weed growth.
I started out throwing mostly a black bucktail but also casted a surface bait for some time. I worked one particular area hard but only caught a smallmouth on the bucktail. As darkness approached, I headed far to the other side of the bar. Here I made a long drift in an area where I caught a 41" Musky two weeks before on full moon. Another deep rock finger extends far out with very deep water off the sides. There is really nice cabbage weeds out to 12 feet on the shallower part of this finger. My first drift with an east wind was perfect! I started in 25 feet, drifted up over the weeds at 12 feet and back down to 20 feet but with no luck. Then I worked more along the weed edge and still nothing.
I had noticed more and more bait fish on my depth finder and the moon was close to setting. As I drifted off one side of this deep rocky finger there were bait fish everywhere at 20 feet! I started my next drift and crossed the rocks at a peak of 16 feet and then it started dropping off again. I was now casting a silver and black 9" Jake that I modified. I was using a St Croix Avid 6'9 heavy action rod and Shimano 400 Corsair reel with 35lb test Tuf-line. It must have been 8:30pm and it was dark. I turned and cast as far as I could straight off what I thought was the tip of the point into deep water. I had retrieved about 20yds when I felt the bait twitch. I set the hook instinctively even though it felt more like my bait just skipped off a rock. I had a fish I thought, but still did not feel much. Suddenly my rod doubled and shook violently! My drag made several short bursts and I knew I had a big fish on! It was pretty far out and staying deep and fighting hard!!
After getting the drag loose and raising my motor, the fish started coming towards the boat quite easily. I had my big musky net open and ready, but knew I was along way from using it. When the fish got about 20 yards from the boat, it exploded on the surface and made a long run back to deep water! Now my heart was pumping! I was sure I had a 30lb plus Musky on the line - and I had never landed a fish that was fighting like this one. In a short time I had the fish to the boat. It was six feet from my rod tip as I led it away from the motor towards the front and around the other side. She didn't look super long but it was a nice musky. It just coasted along and seemed played out until it saw the net! The fish blasted away and I had it to the boat six more times before I even thought about grabbing the net again.
Every time it even got close it would make another hard run. When I did grab the net it was more of the same. The fish just kept powering off over & over! It was like a big smallie that just won't let you get him that last ten feet to the boat! I was tiring of this game - literally! I reeled up as much line as I could and thought I saw my chance to net her. As I slid the net over her head and first half of the body, she rolled, got the hooks in the net and started thrashing! My worst nightmare! I dropped my rod and struggled to get more fish in the net and she fought back. The net was tangled badly so the basket was not near as deep as it should have been. Finally, I had most of the fish in the net and she seemed as tired as I was. All I had to do was get her in the boat. With one big heave, I got the fish and net over the side and in the boat. This is not easy by yourself. I laid the net and fish on the bottom boat and just when I thought the fight was over, it wasn't! Again, the fish thrashed and rolled in the net almost breaking my rod and totally tangling itself and the bait in the net. WHAT A MESS! I wanted to release this fish! To my surprise I was able to untangle her quickly and now the hooks were out! I had the live well running and carefully laid her in. At first glance, I saw she was shy of 50" but really fat! I hoped I could get her on a scale before releasing her. I raced to shore and the Fish'n Bum. The musky was resting in the livewell as fresh water blasted continually. I ran for the scale but unfortunately found it was locked away inside. I quickly returned and by now a few people were gathering at the resort to see what the commotion was.
I was able to get someone at the resort to snap a couple photos and witness measurements and release. It was almost identical to the one I caught in 1988. That fish was 48 1/2" 33lbs 3oz - I measured this musky at 48 1/2" with a 26" girth! I estimated this fish at 36lbs but I really wish I knew for sure! All I know is it was a battle I will never forget!